Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chocolate Layer Cake

I felt like I needed to take a break from making cookies and realized that I don't have a good chocolate cake recipe at hand. There are thousands of search results on the internet for chocolate cakes, but my colleague forwarded this Chocolate Layer Cake recipe to me, and naturally I wanted to try it out. This is a recipe that comes from Emily Luchetti, a two-time James Beard Award recipient. 
The ingredients for this cake are nothing extraordinary. It's neat that simple ingredients can turn into something so complex.

Two 9-inch pans were prepped with butter and cocoa powder.

I made a paste using the excess cocoa powder after coating the cake pans.

Next I creamed the butter and sugar together.

Then I added the eggs, one at a time.

The batter turned into a nice and light yellow color.

 I then added the cocoa paste I made earlier.

Then came melted chocolate.

I mixed together some flour, baking soda, and salt, and added those dry ingredients along with milk.

I divided the batter into the two pans...I weighed to get them as even as possible. It would have been easier if my pans weighed the same.

Into the oven for 35 minutes, and these cakes were ready!

They turned out surprisingly flat! I was happy I didn't have to trim any parts off.

I made the frosting by combining melted chocolate, cream, butter, and sugar.

I placed parchment paper under the cake, anticipating a mess being made from the frosting. Thanks for the tip, Dorie!

I don't know what happened here, but when I put my top layer on, the cake was fine. A few minutes later, the cake started tilting and became a little lopsided. I tried hard to cover up that imperfection.


The cake turned out well, minus the lopsidedness. One of my friends said it looked "rustic." I'll accept that.

This was not a very sweet cake. It definitely has a more "mature" taste to it for that reason. The frosting was excellent! 

 Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 50 minutes, plus chilling time 
Cook Time: 40 minutes 
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus chilling time
  • For the Chocolate Cake:
    Unsalted butter, for greasing
    ¾ cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
    ¾ cup water
    4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
    2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    1½ teaspoons baking soda
    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    2 cups granulated sugar
    5 large eggs
    1 cup whole milk, divided
    For the Chocolate Frosting:
    10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
    1 cup heavy cream
    ⅔ cup granulated sugar
    12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Make the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch cake pans with butter and dust evenly with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.
2. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder with the water to make a paste; set aside.
3. In a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, melt the chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate until smooth and evenly melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Through a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl, sift the flour and baking soda; add the salt.
5. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula and stir in the eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. On low speed, add the reserved cocoa paste and melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
6. Still on low speed, add half of the sifted flour, then half the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and then the milk, until combined.
7. Divide the batter between the greased and coated pans. Using an offset spatula or rubber spatula, spread out the batter. Bake the cakes on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Run a paring knife around the inside edges to loosen the cake. Place a plate or sheet pan on top of each cake and invert the cake. Remove the pans and allow the cakes to cool completely.
8. Make the chocolate frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
9. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream and sugar, stirring often until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes.
10. Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes or until the chocolate begins to soften. Whisk until smooth and allow to sit for another 5 to 7 minutes to cool slightly.
11. Whisk the butter into the chocolate, adding only 1 or 2 pieces at a time and whisking until they're blended in before adding the next.
12. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it seems spreadable, 20 to 30 minutes.
13. To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers bottom-side up on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset metal spatula, ice with about 1 cup of the frosting. Place the second layer, also bottom-side up, on top of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting over the side and top of the cake. Slice and serve. 
Recipe adapted from Emily Luchetti, Marlowe, Park Tavern and The Cavalier, San Francisco, CA


  1. I wish I could say the same, Keith. But it's hard to when I haven't had the pleasure of a little slice! Ryan, could you test your cake for freezing? I'll be happy to taste test it and let you know how well it held up being frozen.
    You know I am always available to assist you in any way I can.

  2. Good idea! Yes, I'll freeze a slice next time!